As of today, Rioja Alavesa holds the Biosphere Certified Destination label as a responsible and sustainable tourism destination and can present itself to tour operators and visitors as a region that guarantees authenticity, quality and respect for the environment. This project, led by the Responsible Tourism Institute, and its Biosphere brand, the Diputación Foral de Álava in collaboration with Ruta del Vino and the Basque Government, will contribute to placing Rioja Alavesa in a better position in the national and international market.
The Biosphere Certified Destination certificate ensures and guarantees the existence of a firm commitment and bet for continuous improvement towards sustainability and the fight against climate change, through the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations and the Guidelines of the Paris Climate Summit (COP21).
The certification is based, in particular, on five groups of objectives defined by the UNWTO:
- Inclusive and sustainable economic growth;
- Social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction;
- Resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change;
- Cultural values, diversity and heritage; and
- Mutual understanding, peace and security.
A path towards sustainable tourism which began in 2016
The Celtiberian Pond of the Barbacana of Laguardia has hosted this morning the official act of certification of Rioja Alavesa in the presence of institutions and companies in the region. The chairman of the Responsible Tourism Institute (RTI), Tomás Azcárate, has formally presented the Biosphere Certified Destination certificate to the Deputy for Employment, Trade and Tourism, Cristina González.
The event was also attended by the Director of Tourism of the Basque Government, Maider Echevarria, the president of the Cuadrilla of Rioja Alavesa, Joseba Fernández, the president of the Rioja Alavesa Wine Route, Mariasun Sáenz de Samaniego, and the mayors of the region. Representatives of companies related to tourism (hotels, bars and restaurants, wineries, tourist services companies, etc.) have also attended.
The Rioja Alavesa certification successfully culminates a path that began at the end of 2016 with the signing of the Letter of Commitment and Adhesion to Biosphere. The elaboration of a memory-diagnosis of the actors that directly or indirectly offer tourist services in the region and the design of an action plan aimed at fulfilling the requirements of the certification were the following steps.
The obtaining of this certificate, endorsed by a Memorandum of Understanding between UNESCO and the RTI, consolidates Álava as a responsible destination after the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz achieved mid-2016 the Biosphere Certified Destination seal. This project is thus integrated in the goal of designing a complete and comprehensive tourism offer of the territory that has as axis a nature, heritage and cultural, and sustainable tourism.
Sustainability and responsibility
The Deputy of Promotion of Employment, Commerce and Tourism, Cristina González, has closed the ceremony after receiving the certificate and explained that this achievement lays the foundations for Rioja Alavesa to move towards "a model of tourism development based on sustainability principles, cultural diversity and social responsibility; and an integral management of all its tourist system to cover the economic, sociocultural, environmental and institutional needs ".
"The Biosphere seal also implies integrating tourism as an activity that can and should contribute to human development and provide travelers with a high degree of satisfaction, making them more aware of the problems of sustainability and fostering sustainable tourism practices", González added.
Cristina González has also publicly thanked all the people, companies and institutions of Rioja Alavesa that have been collaborating for the last year and a half to make this certification a reality. "Thank you for your work and effort to comply with all the duties and requirements demanded by the Responsible Tourism Institute to be considered as a responsible tourist destination. Without you, it would not have been possible."
The 'Biosphere' certification also endorses good practices aimed at promoting responsible tourism with cultural diversity, the use of new technologies to inform tourists of the destination, the incorporation of strategies for the preservation of cultural and natural heritage, and the creation of new tourism products and activities that facilitate the respectful use of cultural, natural and intangible heritage.
This project is part of the tourism strategy of the Diputación Foral Álava aimed at consolidating sustainable tourism as a driver of economic activity and employment for the citizens of Alava, which has one of its main axes in the environment and nature. The city of Vitoria-Gasteiz achieved the label 'Biosphere' two years ago and today the circle is completed with the recognition of Rioja Alavesa as a responsible tourist destination.